Volatile energy costs and the need to conserve a dwindling supply of fossil fuels have created an urgent need to develop alternative sources of renewable carbon-neutral energy. Plant biomass and its efficient conversion to biofuels will no doubt play an essential role in meeting future global energy demands. The overall goal of this program is to develop methodologies that will help achieve our nation’s goal of increased reliance on renewable energy. To accomplish this, BNL’s program is structured into the following R&D areas.
Radiotracer chemistry is focused on the short lived positron emitters and directed to increasing the complexity and diversity of radiotracers for imaging in plants including small molecules, sugars and complex signaling molecules.
Imaging Instrumentation, is directed to developing new imaging tools designed to extend the current limits of resolution and sensitivity using configurations tailored for imaging the whole plant and its rhizosphere.
Radiotracer Methodology develops radioanalytical methods specific to whole plants including rapid radiometabolomics and modeling.
Biological Applications builds on the first three, using these tools in combination with Brookhaven's Plant Science Laboratory to probe chemical messenger pathways and explore how environmental cues and/or genetic manipulations influence resource allocation. Our hypothesis is that an increased understanding of plant physiology will facilitate the manipulation of plant physiology both for improved biomass and biofuel production. This work directly supports the mission of the Department of Energy while providing technologies that are broadly transferable to other agencies.
The Biosciences Department is part of the Environment and Life Sciences Directorate at Brookhaven National Laboratory.